El Fenn

Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hussain,
Bab El Ksour,

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The Story of Majorelle Gardens & Top Tips for Visiting


Dramatic cacti and a backdrop of cobalt, yellow and mint make the Majorelle Gardens Insta-fabulous.

But they’re not just about picture perfect moments. The story of Majorelle encapsulates the creative history of Marrakech – and its place as a hub for some of the twentieth century’s most famous creatives. 


majorelle gardens - soaring palm trees and designer cacti


Jacques Majorelle moved permanently to Marrakech in 1919 after being entranced by the colours and light of Morocco.

Four years later, he bought a plot of land and started creating the gardens that would one day become world famous.

After building a villa and studio on the land, Majorelle bought plants from all over the world. Cacti, bamboo, bougainvillea, banana trees and coconut palms jostled for space with jasmine, water lilies and giant agaves. Water, which is sacred in Islam, was also central to the design and Majorelle created basins and pools connected by meandering paths. 


Majorelle Gardens, famous for it's cacti, blue paint and pools of water


Keen to capture the colour he’d seen in Marrakech, he also created his own ‘Majorelle blue’ and used it – along with other striking colours – on oversized pots and walls as a backdrop to the dense green foliage. 

The gardens however were costly to run and Majorelle opened them to the public in 1947. But after his divorce in 1956, he started selling off parts of the land and when he died in 1962, the gardens fell into disrepair. 


Four years later, Yves Saint Laurent bought his first home in Marrakech. (It’s about five minutes from El Fenn and is today a private home.) 

Just like Majorelle, Saint Laurent was drawn to the light and beauty of Morocco and when he and partner Pierre Berger heard the Majorelle Gardens were under threat of development, they bought the land – keen to protect the legacy of the city they loved.

Berger later said: “When we arrived in Marrakech, Yves and I were utterly seduced by the beauty and the magic. What we did not expect was that we would fall in love with a small, mysterious garden, painted in the colours of Henri Matisse and secluded in a bamboo forest, all silence, deeply sheltered from noise and wind. This was the Majorelle Garden. Years later, quite by chance, we came into possession of this jewel and set about saving it.” 


Yves Saint Laurent and Villa Oasis - Marrakech


After buying the gardens in 1980, the couple set about restoring them – as well as Majorelle’s house. Villa Oasis became a sanctuary that Saint Laurent loved, a kaleidoscope of colour and pattern that became the private heart of Majorelle the public never saw. 

Meanwhile, the garden was restored and Majorelle’s studio turned into a Berber museum. Over the years, a cafe, shop and library have been added and in 2017 the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech was opened a few hundred metres from Majorelle. 

Together they are a must-see for anyone interested in the rich – and romantic – history of Marrakech.


The famous majorelle blue of the Marrakech Gardens later owned by YSL



  • Getting there. The Majorelle Gardens are about 10 minutes drive from El Fenn so hop in a taxi at Bab El Ksour – or take one of our drivers.
  • Get there early. The gardens can get really crowded so arrive as soon as the gates open to make the most of the quiet.
  • There is great shopping in Majorelle. Between the gardens, museum and shops, you can easily spend a half day there. The area is also close to Gueliz so you can combine the two into a day out.
  • Food & Drinks. The cafe at Majorelle is lovely so stop for a coffee or juice there but head to the one at the YSL Musuem for lunch. It’s quieter and the food is delicious. 
  • More on Villa Oasis. To see more of Villa Oasis read this Elle Decor article



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